Posts Tagged 'japan'

Strawberry Sweets Buffet in Tokyo

Look at me saving my streak by the skin of my teeth. How was your June?

So way, way, way back in April I went for a strawberry buffet and consumed about ten years’ worth of strawberries in one lunch. Every year a lot of the hotels do seasonal buffets and each one goes all out to splash the whole restaurant in themed sweets and decorations. You’ve never seen a pinker setup than the dessert tables at The Strings

And of course you can’t begin the buffet till every guest has circled the dessert table at least once and gotten their money’s worth of pictures. It definitely took more than five minutes till someone was brave enough to be the first one to actually take a cupcake off the tray.

Starting with the macarons because these were by far my favourite and I had about twenty of them. If a single macaron costs ¥300 outside then you bet I’m going to eat them all when I see them at a buffet. Plus they’re strawberry-shaped.

My other favourite was the tart because I’m a tart person in general. If you ask me to choose between tarts or cakes my pick would probably be the latter because it’s all about the crunch for me. Just give me all the crusts

Of course the classic strawberry shortcake has to make an appearance.

There was a very pretty strawberry mousse that I fortunately got to get a picture of when it was still whole. Mousses are delicious, but also flabby cakes and there was no way to take a slice without it smooshing around everywhere.

Just look at how bouncy that is! All soft and wobbly like a good cheesecake should be.

They lined up the cupcakes to look like the shape of a dress, and added a tiara and pink gloves just in case we didn’t get it. I also realise now that I cut it out of the picture, but there’s a pink glass slipper on the side—Cinderella?

And obviously they had the actual strawberries for us to eat too.

A chocolate fountain, but better because it’s pastel pink.

My dessert after dessert was ice cream with strawberries and silver balls that I sprinkled in myself. They had so many toppings for you to customise with I felt like I was doing some sort of expensive arts and crafts. I was going to have another but then the time ran out and we were very politely chased out so the next group of people could come in.

Also all these pictures are of sweets but we did have our fill of savoury things before all that sugar. Almost too much, actually—we spent so long talking while eating our meats and salad that we completely forgot the time and ended up with only twenty minutes to get the desserts (that we came for in the first place). But look at how much we stuffed into that twenty minutes! You really can do anything when you put your mind to it.

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Sakura Sweets 2018

Indeed it’s the end of May…but I’d really rather not wait till the next spring to come around again before posting all these things I ate.

Since it’s been a while and all how’s everyone doing? Before moving to Japan I always thought the May sickness was a total myth but it’s turned out to be pretty real, I kid you not. I can’t even remember what I did in April because all sense of time disappeared along with the sakura. But jpegs are forever, so I’m still left with all these pictures of sweets I ate (and maybe that weight I gained from them).

It was all just very pink. So much pink.

Once upon a time this year I actually had time to go to festivals and chow down endless sticks of mochi. They’re still my favourite, because they roasted right there in front of you and they’re all soft and chewy with the occasional roasted crisp.

This ice cream shop in Hiroo had a secret spring menu, so here’s a visually pleasing soft serve with the daintiest sprinkling of sakura powder and flowers.

The star of the season was definitely this one donut from Siretoco. Some sweets are just born for Instagram greatness

More pink mochi! I got this from 7-11, who persevered till the very end and kept these on the shelves well after cherry blossom season was over.

And this was my piteous attempt to be decorative. I tried hard to be creative and make a sort of hanami scenery on my toast, but the sakura marshmallows turned out a lot fatter than I’d thought (definitely not like the picture on the package) and it all just became a little blobby. But effort should not be wasted, so here it is

See you next week (maybe?!)

Sakura in Tokyo, 2018

It’s that time of the year again…or should I say it WAS that time of the year again. The sakura bloomed for all of five minutes and then were all blown away before I fully realised they were all there.

But this is my third spring in Japan and my reflexes are now trained precisely for this, so in one weekend I managed to get some shots of the sakura and go around a festival or two

This was taken on film at Koganei where family after family came to have picnics under the cherry blossoms. Some brought their kids, some brought their pooches, some just brought themselves to enjoy the early bloom.

The parks this time of the year are perfect for people-watching. It gets pretty wild in certain spots (usually wherever the alcohol is) but plenty of people are also just sitting around in the middle of the hubbub doing their own thing. I’m usually just slinking in and out trying to take pictures.

I will never stop being fascinated by sakura, but at some point I did realise I’m probably just taking the same pictures year after year. This year I tried to get more shots of people under the trees, and that was a fun diversion of attention.

Babies! Lots of cute babies!

And toddlers out on their field tripI especially liked this group of kids because there was this one boy that just kept escaping the group to climb over the railing. He had absolutely no patience for sakura appreciation and I loved it.

I also came across this very appropriately pink post box outside Komagome Station and fell in love for the five minutes I spent taking pictures of it.

Photobook Diner Megutama: Feast for the Stomach, Feast for the Eyes

I used to get mad if I didn’t keep up with my posts every week, but now it’s come to the point where I feel like I deserve a medal if I remember to update before the month is over…okay, no. I’ll try harder.

Recently I haven’t been going to a lot of places, but yesterday I went to a new cafe for the first time and I liked it so much I’m posting about it right away.

写真集食堂—Photobook Diner Megutama, a small cafe in Ebisu, Tokyo that’s essentially a cafe and a library all in one. It’s not just any kinds of books either but specifically photo books by hundreds of photographers from the famous to the obscure. I could spend hours looking through photo books so that’s what I did here. The next best part is the food, all simple homemade stuff made right there in the kitchen in front of you by the sweetest ladies. It’s like coming home to three moms.

I ended up coming here that day because plans got cancelled and I suddenly had nothing to do and no one to meet, so I made the trek all the way to Ebisu and walked a good distance before I found their sign off the main road.

Here the walls are covered with books and more books carefully lined up by chronology of publication, so you know exactly which decade you’re heading for. That day I picked out more than ten books from the contemporary end and sat for ages looking at everything.

I found my favourite photographers and photographers I’d never heard of before. It was all very worth it, because I paid only about ¥1000 for a whole meal and (since it wasn’t crowded at all) they let me take all the time I wanted after that just reading while popping back on occasion to give me more hot tea. I would honestly just move right in

Teatime with Peter Rabbit in Tokyo

More like lunch at 2pm because it took forever and three train lines to get to Jiyugaoka, but all that wouldn’t fit in the title. Anyhoo, I went to the Peter Rabbit Garden Cafe in one of the fancier ends of Tokyo.

Here you can find the storybook characters sitting around at blue gingham tables and looking very much at home surrounded by waitresses in that same blue gingham. It was all very Beatrix Potter and very English. I didn’t read a lot of Peter Rabbit growing up—I was more of an Arthur & Friends kid—but it was one of the better done themed cafes I’ve been to so far.

Themed cafes that commit through and through are the best ones to go to. They had a pretty extensive menu with things like Peter Rabbit’s House (a burrow of rice and salad leaves for trees) and Mr. McGregor’s Winter Menu. Plus the quintessential afternoon tea

They called this a Sleepy Salad Plate; I came for the omurice and stayed for the bread. That might have been the best bread I’ve ever had on the side. So fluffy! So buttery! I probably could’ve ordered five of those instead of a main meal.

The Healthier Choice™ i.e. Peter Rabbit’s House and Mr. McGregor’s Vegetable Curry (Peter Rabbit included). There was a little light inside the burrow and it all looked very homely until it was eaten up.

The dessert was a lot bigger than I expected. I’d been in the mood for something light and cheesy, and the Caramel Cheese Parfait turned out to be something of a monster with whole chunks of cheese tarts stuck on top. But delicious! Just do not attempt to finish alone.

Meanwhile the tart was a lot lighter even with ice cream on the side

I had about three seconds to take this picture before Peter Rabbit started sinking into the froth. On the menu it says cappuccino, but if you’re an ambivalent caffeine drinker like me you can ask for hot cocoa instead. Life hacks at the Peter Rabbit cafe.

You don’t really have to be a Peter Rabbit fan to enjoy this place—it’s a pretty special cafe that somehow manages to feel cute and cultured at the same time, which is exactly the kind I like.

Hokkaido in Winter 2018

Right before finals season I escaped to Hokkaido for three days because freezing in the northernmost part of the country sounded better than studying.

And it was beautiful! I admit I’d voted against Hokkaido at first because I didn’t feel like braving the harsh natural elements, but once I saw all that snow any reluctance I had went out the window. You can actually enjoy the cold, once you’re numb enough.

It helped that we didn’t take a plane there—we went by shinkansen and just zoomed straight to Hokkaido. By zoom I mean it took us 4 hours from Tokyo, but that’s still unprecedentedly fast.

Got my ekiben for the journeyNothing puts me in the mood for a long train ride better than a bento box. I used to bring the boxes back home, so I have an unnecessarily large collection of old bento boxes piled up over the years.

The shinkansen from Tokyo only takes you up to Hakodate (the bottom tip of Hokkaido or what they call the genkan), so that’s where we stayed for three days. I’ve never been in this part but I loved it. It was all brick and snow and the occasional flock of birds.

History nugget for you curious learners out there: the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse (literally named for what it is) dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when it was a trading port. This was one of my favourite places in Hakodate and I had a lot of fun trekking through the snow between all those brick walls.

Thawing out our frozen selves with miso ramenTypically I’m more of a tonkotsu ramen person, but when in Hokkaido…anyway, it was delicious. And hot food really is a blessing in extreme arctic conditions.

As I quickly found out everything in Hakodate is photogenic(I mean…what’s frostbite if you can get nice pictures out of it?)

Wouldn’t be Hokkaido without meeting a snowman standing in the middle of nowhere.

Somewhere along the road we decided to stop and get lunch, and because of the long one-way roads there was a whole ordeal backing in and out of different driveways while we tried to find a place to park and eat at. But thanks to my brilliant intuition (and prior research on the gram), I found a chain restaurant called Lucky Pierrot by chance. And—italicising for emphasis—I want to live there.

It’s hard to describe, but it was dressed like a carnival. The funny thing about this place is that when I read about it on social media no one said anything about the decor. The talk was all on their burger which, fair enough, is what they’re famous for. Except I don’t care enough for burgers to go all the way to a place just for one. Coincidentally though I spotted the Lucky Pierrot sign (with a pierrot on it, obviously) along the road and convinced everyone to go there instead of eating ramen for the second day in a row. And what a good decision it was.

Everything was huge in this place. I didn’t do a good job of capturing it in perspective, but believe me when I say this bowl was almost twice the size of my face. It was a katsudon of Brobdingnagian porportions, and not even ¥1000.

I had the omurice, which was not as scarily big as the katsudon but still an endeavour to eat my way through. Ironically the one thing I didn’t get a picture of was the famous burger, but we did try it. We were probably just too busy feeling guilty about eating a 14-cm tall burger with chunks of fried chicken wedged inside.

We also went to visit the monkeys, who were happily soaking in the onsen while the humans shivered on the other side of the railing. I see those pictures of monkeys bathing in a hot spring on some snowy mountain all the time, but I’d always wanted to see them up close. I’ve changed my mind now—those monkeys are vicious. It’s a much better idea to watch them from a safe distance away while they shriek and run around while pushing each other off the ledge. Check out Hakodateshi Nettai Botanical Gardens to meet some cool monkeysFor just ¥100 you can even get a big pack of snacks to throw their way and watch them fight over it.

I only spent two nights in Hakodate, but everything was worth the cold and slipping around in the snow. I still want to go to Hokkaido in the summer one day, so hopefully sometime soon I’ll be back with a change of season in my pictures.

Another Year in Tokyo

You really don’t get triggered to bring your blog back to life until you realize you’re about to break your monthly blogging streak for the past 6 years.

Snowman donuts are here in Japan! It’s Christmas! Before I knew it the seasons shuffled right past and it’s already down to the last week of 2017. That’s crazy. And so am I, a little bit, after the chaos of the past few months. Between school, moving, work and an assortment of miscellaneous happenings, my mind’s been everywhere except this blog. And that makes me sad

But! That leads me to my New Year’s resolution—not giving up on blogging. Even if no one’s reading this anymore (except you, kind visitor), I still want to keep this space of mine going for as long as I can write. I have pictures to show, thoughts to share and words that can’t fit in an Instagram caption. I mean, this blog is handy.

My surroundings have changed a little bit and so have I. One post can’t fit every gritty detail in a nutshell, but as long as I continue writing I think it’ll all work out. I’m still going to cafes and finding new places in Japan and taking pictures of all of it! Time management may not have been my strong trait this later half of the year, but I think I can let myself restart with the new year.

See you in 2018—I’ll still be here


▷ . Cheryl

A university student in Tokyo who takes pictures and puts them on the Internet

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